'Screwed' by Justin Trudeau, leaders fume over scuppered Trans-Pacific Partnership deal

Violet Powell
November 13, 2017

Discord emerged between Japan and Canada over progress on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal on Thursday, as Japan said countries "agree in principle" on a way forward, but Canada said there was no such agreement.

She met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the gala dinner on Friday night but she said the pair didn't discuss the deal.

It has been reported that the 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries have reached an agreement on "core elements" of the trade pact, including that all countries will adhere to strict labour and environmental standards.

The Prime Minister said while "progress" had been made on the controversial agreement, Canada's failure to show at the negotiating table has stalled the process.

"It would be fair to say that there is still a little bit of clarification required around where those talks have finally landed", Ms Ardern told reporters at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam on Saturday.

Mr Trudeau is yet to explain why he got "cold feet", with some suspicion that upcoming elections in industrial Quebec may have contributed to his last minute hesitation to support the TPP.

The 11 remaining TPP countries have been working to revive the deal, which was abandoned earlier this year by U.S. President Donald Trump.

One of Mr Trump's first official acts after inauguration was to formally withdraw from negotiations on the partnership, citing it as an example of "trade deals that put the interests of insiders and the Washington elite over the hard-working men and women of this country".

Motegi, taking part in the Abe-Trudeau summit, said "no clear explanation" was offered as to why Canada can not support and announce the agreement at the leaders' level. "Our continued involvement in the CPTPP is a testament of Malaysia's commitment to globalisation and multilateralism", Mustapa said.

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Indeed, since his arrival in Vietnam, Trudeau has said he wouldn't cave to "pressure" from others, telegraphing that Canada did not have its pen in hand heading into Danang, the site of the APEC conference.

Japan and Vietnam are expected to make statements later on Saturday which Mr Parker said would outline those areas.

Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had bilateral talks immediately before that planned meeting.

The TPP countries agreed Friday to suspend controversial provisions from the original TPP deal related to intellectual property.

"The scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Abe ... went long, we obviously had a lot to talk about, and at the end of the meeting it became clear it was in everyone's interest to postpone the meeting on TPP11", Trudeau said as an explanation.

Canada's position has been further complicated by the fact that it is simultaneously renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with the Trump administration. China is not part of the TPP.

APEC, whose leaders hold their full summit on Saturday, has itself been buffeted by the changes under Trump. The official disputes the notion it was a snub because the leaders would mingle at APEC events over the next 24 hours anyway.

As an institution, apart from its pageantry and its tradition of drawing leaders together for face-to-face meetings, APEC mainly serves as a laboratory for trying out policies and encouraging "best practices", said Alan Bollard, executive director for APEC's secretariat.

"We have witnessed changes more rapid and complex than we expect", he said in opening remarks.

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